It’s late afternoon on Thursday, Aug. 26, and today the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 10,000 again. Coincidentally, we’ve been sweltering here in the San Francisco Bay Area with a unusual heat wave (bring me lemonade, stat!), and I’ve been trying to help a young man find a software engineering job.

The young man – the boyfriend of a friend’s daughter – has an solid resume. Not bad, given that he’s only been out of college for a few years, with experience in software development, testing, quality assurance, second-level support and network operations. He’s versatile, too, skills in Java, C, C++, C#, HTML and Flash, and has been using both Visual Studio and Eclipse. Even more important he’s been programming Facebook Markup Language, and has worked with Google AdWords and Google Analytics.

How do you find a good, solid job with a background like that? He’s working all the social-networking angles, including Facebook and LinkedIn. Family friends (like me) are making introductions. He’s schmoozing every chance he gets.

It’s tough out there for people looking for employment, even if you’re a bring young software engineer in Silicon Valley. He’s thinking about doing some volunteer work to keep himself busy until the right job (or any job) in his field comes along.

My young friend isn’t the only one looking for work in the Valley. Another friend – a guy in his mid-50s – is also looking for work in technical marketing or product management. With a gold-plated resume, a winning personality and great references, he’s having trouble getting anyone’s attention.

What do you tell job-hunters in this economy, beyond advising them to meet people, meet people, meet people and meet more people?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It seems as if all the major IT companies are going bonkers. What’s going on? Is there something in the water?
Think about all the odd behavior that we’ve seen lately. Is there a pattern? To mention just a few, in alphabetical order:
Apple – The master of marketing screwed up. Yes, there is a problem with the iPhone 4 antenna design – an exposed metal antenna is a bad idea, because being touched by a human body changes an antenna’s performance. However, anyone can make a mistake. The real problem was Apple’s bizarre response, which turned a minor hardware issue into a major news story. Stupid.
Google – The company’s unofficial motto is “Don’t Be Evil.” The company’s plan to bypass net neutrality with a private deal with Verizon seems to be contrary to much of what Google stands for. When you add that to the never-ending series of inquires about privacy violations and the Street View service, you have to wonder if the folks running the Googleplex are getting delusions of grandeur.
Hewlett-Packard – We may never know the real story behind the forced resignation of CEO Mark Hurd. Was the guy a visionary leader who turned the company but who made a silly mistake on his expense account? Or was he a self-obsessed cost-cutter who was ousted by a board who was looking for an excuse to get rid of him? The story seemingly changes every day. Is scandal the new HP Way?
Microsoft – Cancelling its Kin smartphones in June, just 48 days after their introduction, was an incredible admission of failure. But what do you expect when Microsoft is also trying to promote its late-to-market Windows Phone 7 platform? It’s unclear that there was ever a good reason for Microsoft to buy Danger in 2008. What were they thinking? If anything?
Oracle – After being essentially silent for months about its plans for Sun’s open source software, the company suddenly takes two actions. First, it kills OpenSolaris, and then it sues Google for violating some patents regarding the use of a Java Virtual Machine inside Android. What’s Larry Ellison up to? Is he trying to monetize his acquisition, or is he doing a favor for his buddy Steve Jobs?
All this makes you wonder if there any grown-ups minding the store.
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The Android platform is gaining market share and mindshare with amazing speed. While it’s clearly trailing iPhone’s large head start, in terms of installed base and number of independent applications, Android is sprinting to make up the gap.
Why is Android moving so fast? From the consumer side, it’s about choice. If you buy an iPhone, you get one model (with a choice of colors and amount of memory). One size must fit all. Want a physical keyboard? No. Want a choice of carriers? If you’re in the United States, no. There’s one handset currently sold with iOS 4, and it’s from Apple and run on AT&T.
By contrast, you have a whole consortium of innovators pushing Android – and building on top of it. From multiple carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, to competing manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola, everyone is free to build on the Android experience with different hardware features and add-on functions. That means consumers get choices galore.
Developers, too, have plenty of flexibility. Apple imposes strict limits on what developers can put into their iPhone apps – not only to ensure that the functions don’t crash the phone and aren’t malicious, but also to make sure they don’t compete against what Apple wants to sell. With Android, it’s the Wild Wild West. The market is wide open.
When you couple the broad base of manufacturer and carrier support with the open model for app distribution, you get unparalleled opportunities for developers and entrepreneurs.
That’s why BZ Media – the company behind SD Times – is launching AnDevCon: The Android Developer Conference, March 7-9, 2011.
Join us for three days in San Mateo. We’ll have dozens of technical classes and workshops focused in three topic areas: Programming for Android, using Android software in the enterprise, and how to market applications to the Android market.
If you want to learn all about Android development, please join us at AnDevCon. Hope to see you there!
PS: If you’re an expert in Android development and are an experienced instructor, the Call for Speakers for AnDevCon is open through mid-September.
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick